Matt Sloane on Starting a Fire Service Drone Program
By Derek Rosenfeld
The second day of FDIC International 2018 commenced with another series of pre-conference workshops designed to bring attention to some of the most innovative aspects of the fire service. Among those innovations is the increasing use of drone technology, as highlighted by Skyfire Consulting CEO Matt Sloane in his well-attended workshop "Starting a Drone Program for Your Department."
"I’ve been teaching UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] classes to firefighters and other first responders for four years now," Sloane said. "I first began because I realized that agencies were buying aircraft from hobby shops and big box retail stores and weren’t getting the appropriate training on how to operate safely and within the regulations."
In this segment, Sloane gives an overview on securing the proper drone training provider, the need for a certificate of authorization (COA), what the training will entail, and other topics related to starting a fire department drone program:
Sloane continued, "I think the most important thing about starting a drone program for your agency is doing it the proper way—get the best training you can find, buy the best equipment for the job, and make sure you’re operating within the regulations. If you have budget constraints, understand what is possible within your agency’s budget."
In this segment, Sloane talks about the importance of creating and submitting a public declaration letter when attempting to kick-start a fire department drone program:
"UAVs are one of the biggest advances in the fire service since thermal imaging cameras. This new technology helps responders do their jobs more easily, more safely, and more effectively. Drones provide perspective on scenes that responders and incident commanders can’t typically get."
"I think I’d like people to understand that having a drone doesn’t necessarily mean having a drone program. It’s important to put policies and procedures around it, get good training, and ensure you’re following the rules. That’s the only way to ensure your program will be successful for many years down the line."
In this segment, Sloane discusses airspace classifications as it pertains to flight altitude and airports:
Sloane concluded, "This will be my fourth FDIC, and I’m looking forward to seeing so many friends I’ve made in this industry over those years. We’ve helped start over 100 drone programs, and most of our clients have become friends we talk to on a regular basis about their drones and their lives outside of work."